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NEIGHBORLY ADVICE

Redondo Beach draws surfers and families

November 10, 2002|Diane Garrett | Special to The Times

Home to L.A. County's first port, Redondo Beach is better known today as an affordable beach community than for commercial seafaring. Entrenched in California surf culture since the early 1900s, the city immortalized in the Beach Boys' "Surfing U.S.A." still draws surfers to its shores. Incorporated in 1892, it's now home to 63,261 residents.

Dividing lines

The city's zigzag border breaks the community into two sections: coastline-hugging South Redondo with a remarkably chain-free shopping district and a hilly northern stretch that snakes east of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach to Hawthorne and Lawndale.

Drawing card

Family-friendly Redondo is the least expensive beach city within easy commuting distance to Hollywood and the Westside.

Wow factor

Homes on South Redondo's alphabet avenues -- a diverse mix of older cottages, condos and million-dollar-plus homes -- have breathtaking views of the Pacific without the crime found in Venice and Santa Monica.

Insider's view

Parents in Redondo's Golden Hills section between Hermosa and Manhattan beaches have been sending their children to highly regarded Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach for years, although the school district could curb the practice if attendance grows too high. This would mean a longer trip to Redondo Union High School, which tests well above average but not at the same level as Mira Costa.

Good news, bad news

Redondo's relatively affordable prices have kept home sales brisk, according to Lorie O'Connor of South Bay Brokers. As demand rises, however, older homes are being torn down and one or two bigger homes are being built in their place, adding density sometimes at the expense of charm.

The city recently gave the pier a face lift but couldn't remove all the tackiness, making for a strange mix of upscale eateries and souvenir stands.

Report card

Jefferson Elementary School ranked 10 out of 10 on the state's 2001 Academic Performance Index and 7 out of 10 compared with similar schools. It's such a draw that parents will consider moving into a less desirable portion of North Redondo. Adams Middle School rated 8 out of 10 on both API indexes last year.

Hot spots

Realtors report high demand in the Golden Hills section and North Redondo for their affordability and access to freeways. Tall skinny houses on 25-by-100-square-foot lots in the Golden Hills area are selling in the $400,000s with larger homes commanding up to $750,000. In desirable South Redondo, "you don't really get anything below $500,000, and that's a tear down," said Mary Stansbury of Re/Max Beach Cities.

On the market

The first week of November there were 62 homes on the market, the bulk in North Redondo, according to Realtor Don Karasevicz of Re/Max Beach Cities.

Stock report

Redondo has 8,747 single-family residences and nearly as many condos. There are 12,674 apartment units.

Historical values

Median prices for all residential sales:

Year...Median Price

1990...$305,000

1995...$239,500

2000...$360,000

2001...$396,500

2002...$445,000*

*year to date

Sources: DataQuick Information Services, South Bay Brokers, Re/Max Beach Cities, www.redondo.org, www.redondochamber.org, www.greatschools.net.

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